YATES PRAYER MEMO
January 5, 2011
(Last Prayer Memo November 4, 2010)
Jeff Jones, our son-in-law, arrived safely in Taiwan on November 5 and we have enjoyed having him around for the holidays. He and Barb can swap kids when either needs to do something during the day so that has been helpful. He's now enrolled at St. Leo's University online and will start taking 2 classes each 6 week mini-semester on January 10. Hopefully Jeff will get his resident visa (accompanying Val for her work visa) later this month when Val renews her work contract with JumpStart Kindergarten. Val had the week of Christmas off (unusual for Taiwan, but a nice company policy for foreigners) so we all enjoyed several days together baking, playing board games, Wii games, watching movies or bike riding along the river park. Pray for Jeff's online studies and their adjustments to the Taiwan life together.
Natalie found and purchased a wedding dress she liked in Harrisburg over Thanksgiving in preparation for a newly decided wedding date for July 10, 2011 in Harrisburg PA. Natalie is on winter vacation in several locations (Vestal NY with my parents for Christmas, now at her fiance Doug Hoffer's house in Harrisburg PA, then to Butler PA to visit Barbara's parents)and returns to Wheaton for her final semester as a senior Philosophy major on January 10. Pray for ongoing wedding planning, her job as a teaching assistant grading History of Philosophy papers, job & apartment hunting for the transition to married life.
Jonathan has been developing a stronger interest in rock climbing and practicing on the climbing wall at Wheaton. He also has been volunteering for a bike repair shop that fixes up donated bikes to give to missionaries on home assignment. His curiosity and energy to learn new things is quite amazing! He enjoyed vacation time at my parents in NY and is now with his roommates' extended family in the Washington DC area, skiing for the first time in the PA Poconos today, then out to Butler, PA to visit Barb's parents on Tuesday).
Janine & Karen returned to Morrison High School dormitory Sunday afternoon after two weeks vacation at home with us. They both have semester finals next week. Janine is interested in studying Elementary Education as a college major, or perhaps something in counseling. She is completing applications to Biola, Covenant, and Geneva in the coming days, and is on delayed decision for her early application for Wheaton College (her first choice). Janine plans to join the Sr-Jr Mission trip to the Philippines in April 14-24 and needs to raise about $900 US. She leads the Varsity Basketball team as one of the co-captains and key motivator, and had an exciting come-from-behind winning game two nights ago with 12 points and 9 rebounds.
After making the girls varsity basketball team and showing some great stats in the first few games for her sophomore season, Karen had a bit of a set back with a sprained right ankle during practice 3 weeks ago. She was out in the park playing again Saturday with us and rolled her left ankle, much to her great disappointment! She was able to play well in the varsity game last night (14 points, 2 fouls shots in the last 13 seconds to help bring the team to a one point victory), without re-injury, so hopefully she'll be ok for the Far East Tournament in Japan from February 19-26. She is challenged by Chemistry this year.
We took Trisha out of Chinese kindergarten for two weeks to be home with her siblings over Christmas break. She appreciated having two weeks when she didn't need to wake up early (Barbara & I did too!). Her teacher called last Friday to see how she was doing and encourage her to come back so she didn't forget all her Chinese :>). On December 12 the school had a 50th anniversary celebration, complete with a brief speech by Taiwan President Ma to kick off the occasion (he grew up in the same area and has had some connections with the school in the past). Trisha's class performed a dance with drums wearing Chinese style outfits. (see 2 photos)
Nathan had a hacking cough for the past few days & runny nose, so Barb took him to the ENT Doctor (ear, nose, throat). Barb devised a piggy bank-coin reward to get him to take the medicine- that surprisingly worked! Barbara is working with him at home on learning to read.
Barbara had no bake sales for December since Bethany was raising money for a Christmas gift to an orphanage in Nepal. Barb donated some baked gingerbread house component parts that others assembled & sold, along with a few candy items to help with that fund raiser. Barbara plans to start the bake sale again a week from Tuesday since she's been coughing too and taking some antibiotics.
Barbara's sister Becca visited us twice since the funeral of her fiance, the last two weeks in November and about 10 days in December (19-29). We enjoyed having her around and Trisha and Nathan got some good Aunt Becca time. One of her special niches has been to help do Christmas shopping (in the Philippines before she came) and while here, she helped wrap all the presents, and organized the kids' toys, games, puzzles and book shelves in their room.
At China Reformed Theological Seminary we finished our fall semester on December 17. Overall I was pleased with the approach I took this time with the Counseling Theology class and felt that the students finished the semester with a better grasp of the content and its applications for counseling than previous years when I taught this. I hope to do more writing of this material for extending the training beyond my classroom, but I find it difficult to stay motivated while I move on to so many other urgent tasks in the teaching and administration of CRTS.
The draft plans for remodeling our CRTS building second floor into a student center and library are still in the blueprint stage as I consider some different floor plan options with the interior designer. Pray for wisdom in the design phases and for a smooth approval and fund raising process. One US church has already donated $4,500 for the project!
My intensive 4 day mini-class on John's Gospel in China went about a well as any course I've ever taught there on all the levels that make a trip enjoyable: sixteen motivated and capable (mostly) MA level students, many of whom are doing ministry full time, a wonderful training site that allowed me a good mix of privacy at night and contact with students during all meals, good food, good weather (though I couldn't go out of the building until the night the training was finished), apparently no security problems, and I was able to take my textbook in with me. Students were able to share the four translated copies of the D.A. Carson's commentary in John's Gospel, so the assignments were manageable. Students also had video files of Carson when he came to Hong Kong to speak through a translator about John's Gospel so that was an added bonus!
In an unexpected development, I was asked to teach a 12 hour mini-course online for the book of Ecclesiastes for Mainland Chinese students at one of our other training sites on December 9-10. Our usual classroom website host was arranged for use from my office, but in operational tests the night before, we couldn't get the program to work, probably due to their low internet speed capability in the area of China where the students were assembled. I ended up teaching the course using a webcam on SKYPE from my CRTS office for those two days. The sound & picture quality was OK for them most of the time, but my experience was rather tough to manage since, for security concerns, they broadcast a webcam of their ceiling rather than their faces so I couldn't see the students as I taught. Also I had a tough time getting them documents I was using, and failed to have them translated ahead of time, and their English ability was much lower than the group I taught in November. Overall, it was a disappointing first try using that kind of a system on a number of levels. As a test case for future cost & time saving training options for dedicated internet courses for Mainland students, we will need to see improvements.
We need prayer for the Asian Theological Association application process. Nothing can go forward until the board determines who is in charge of writing and approving the ATA requested documents.
I finished counseling a single pastor recently dealing with depression, loneliness and work-related discouragements. God has heard your prayers and I am seeing good fruit in his life and a good support system around him.
The Family Counseling Center hosted a seminar on "Dealing with Adultery" with one of our MA Biblical Counseling graduates as the main speaker, sharing her graduate dissertation on that topic. Three women shared their testimonies dealing with affairs. I spoke on 1 Peter 5:6-10; 1:6-8, illustrated by the context of Peter 3:1-6, basically that we can humble ourselves under God's mighty hand though we may have many harsh or unjust human "thumbs" pressing down on us, because over every thumb is God's mightier hand. My talk was more about dealing with the feelings of betrayal and injustice in those sinned against, God's larger purpose in testing and purifying our faith, and the illustration of Sarah in 3:1-6 used to show how to win over an unbelieving husband. The seminar was attended by about 30 people.
This month ahead will be filled with grading papers of my students and the distance learning DVD courses, hosting one of our Friends of CRTS board members Scott Lindsay (and his wife Lisa), as Scott teaches a mini-class on 1 Timothy, hosting the acting president Dr. Luke Lu, PhD, teaching a ThM course on the Three Forms of Unity (The Belgic Confession, The Thirty Nine Articles and the Heidelberg Catechism). We had winter term entrance exams this week, with 8 new prospective student interviews. We will recommend 6 for full admission, which will be a good incoming class.
We discovered 2 water leaks in the main classroom basement wall last week and that will take some professional work and costs to figure out why it's leaking and how to fix it.
Our Academic Administrator was hospitalized a few days before Christmas with kidney stones, but we are praying that the lithotripsy process will shatter the stones and allow them to pass.
We plan to return to the US this summer mid-June-mid-August, so pray for scheduling plans for visiting churches and individuals, purchasing reasonably priced airline tickets, and also, for the first time, arranging a mini-class I plan to teach at Grace Christian Church (Herndon VA) in Chinese at our Washington DC area CRTS extension site.
Happy Chinese New Year on February 3, the year of the Rabbit.